Remember the saying “actions speak louder than words”? That’s especially true when it comes to teaching your kids the basics of good sportsmanship. Your behavior during practices and games will influence them more than any pep talk or lecture you give them.
Here are ten tips on how to build good sportsmanship in your kids:
- Unless you’re coaching your child’s team, you need to remember that you’re the parent. Shout words of encouragement, not directions, from the sidelines (there is a difference!).
- If you are your kid’s coach, don’t expect too much out of your own child. Don’t be harder on him or her than on anyone else on the team, but don’t play favorites either.
- Keep your comments positive. Don’t bad-mouth coaches, players, or game officials. If you have a serious concern about the way that games or practices are being conducted, or if you’re upset about other parents’ behavior, discuss it privately with the coach or with a league official.
- After a competition, it’s important not to dwell on who won or lost. Instead, try asking, “How did you feel you did during the game?” If your child feels weak at a particular skill, like throwing or catching, offer to work on it together before the next game.
- Applaud good plays no matter who makes them.
- Set a good example with your courteous behavior toward the parents of kids on the other team. Congratulate them when their kids win.
- Remember that it’s your kids, not you, who are playing. Don’t push them into a sport because it’s what you enjoyed. As kids get older, let them choose what sports they want to play and decide the level of commitment they want to make.
- Keep your perspective. It’s just a game. Even if the team loses every game of the season, it’s unlikely to ruin your child’s life or chances of success.
- Look for examples of good sportsmanship in professional athletes and point them out to your kids. Talk about the bad examples, too, and why they upset you.
- Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Even if your child isn’t the star, enjoy the game while you’re thinking of all the benefits your child is gaining — new skills, new friends, and attitudes that can help all through life.